WDC Final

February Newsletter  - Volume 5, Issue 5



Social Media Update --- We're on Twitter! 

Political Book Club

Volunteers: It Takes a Village 

Suggestion Box 


You may click on one of the above titles to go directly to that subject, or simply scroll down the newsletter.     


Thanks to Beth Tomasello, Sybil Cantor, Teddi Pensinger,Lucy Freeman, Joyce Lipman, Ed Kimmel, Carmela Cowgill, and Marcia Loeb  for their contributions to this newsletter.



Thursday, March 12           


Happy Hour     Happy Hour Image

5:30 to 7 PM  

Lebanese Taverna

7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda


Want to meet new people and talk politics?  Join us at the next WDC Happy Hour. Every second Thursday of each month, Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests. Whether you want to meet elected officials, make new friends, form new business contacts or just have fun, the WDC Happy Hour is the perfect place to meet and greet fellow Democrats.  



Thursday, March 26



9:45 AM - 4:00 PM


This is a unique opportunity to visit with your delegates and senators to hear

what will be happening during the 2015 session of the General Assembly and

to learn about their legislative priorities. You will have the opportunity to: 

  • See the General Assembly in action
  • Take a private tour of the State House
  • Attend Committee hearings
  • Hear from David Juppe, Senior Manager, Operating Budget for the Office of Policy Analysis,  who will provide an "Overview of the Maryland Budget Process"


Annapolis Day Schedule:


9:45 am SHARP!             Meet at the State House (first floor)

10:00                            Maryland General Assembly House or Senate Session

10:30                            Meet with Montgomery County Delegates and Senators

 1:00 pm                       Lunch with David Juppe, Senior Manager, Operating

      Budget for the Office of  of Policy Analysis          

 2:00                             Visit Committee Hearings or Tour the State House




Registration:  Please complete form in the prior Annapolis Day email and return to Judith Heimann, 6900 Marbury Road, Bethesda, MD 20817 by Friday, March 20 Or register online at  http://www.womansdemocraticclub.org by Friday, March 20. Questions? Contact Lenna Israbian-Jamgochian at lisrabian@aol.com or 301-512-0329.



Monday, March 30


Luncheon with Democratic pollster Frederick S. Yang


Pooks Hill Marriott

5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda


There is free parking in the hotel parking lot.


Registration details to follow.


Want to hear about what leading political experts are planning for the next national election? Then be sure and attend March's luncheon where Democratic pollster Fred Yang will speak about Democratic messaging for 2016.  


Frederick S. Yang is a partner with the Garin Hart Yang Research Group, one of the most respected and successful political polling firms in the country for Democratic candidates. Mr. Yang has achieved a reputation for providing insightful analysis in his approach to political survey research, and for his hands-on involvement with his clients' campaigns. Campaigns & Elections magazine has singled out Mr.Yang for "his ability to master the local nuances of a race." And Capitol Hill's newspaper, Roll Call, named Mr. Yang as one of ten Democratic consultants on its list of "Consultants Who Make A Difference." Mr. Yang works for a wide range of clients, ranging from several governors, U.S. senators, other statewide elected officials, and scores of municipal officials. He has helped elect at least one new House member in each of the past seven election cycles. Mr.Yang also serves as a senior vice president with Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., Garin Hart Yang's parent company. Mr. Yang, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, got his start in politics at age 14, when he worked in his state assemblyman's district office. Prior to joining Hart Research, he worked on several political campaigns in a variety of roles, from precinct walker to field coordinator.



Tuesday, April 21


Montgomery 101: Domestic Violence: Montgomery County's Hidden Hurts

10:00 - 11:30 AM

The Jane E. Lawton Community Center

4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase


This is your opportunity to learn more about this critical issue and how you can make a difference.  


The speakers are:  


Laurie Duker, Court Watch Montgomery

Mindy Thiel, Safe Start

Daryl Leach, Family Justice Center

Sahar Nasserghodsi, House of Ruth


To RSVP, Contact Lucy Freeman dorset4708@yahoo.com, 301-654-8115


You may park on the street if the parking lot is full. We have been assured that the police will not ticket cars during the program.






                                                                                by Joyce Lipman


"There are profound changes going on in the world right now, and we need to take these trends and bend them" to help more people succeed in our economy. Such was the theme of Congressman John Delaney's presentation to the Women's Democratic Club on Tuesday, January 20th, a few hours before the President's State of the Union address.


The Congressman declared himself pleased with what he had heard of the plan outlined in the President's address, deeming it "appropriate, smart, and measured." The struggle for progressive Democratic values, he said, "is a fight worth fighting." He stressed the importance of the long-term decision making process; that is, "How will people judge us in 50 years?" He feels confident that future generations will look back favorably on the Democratic agenda, for instance, on such issues as climate change (though we could be doing more!).


The paramount issue on the horizon, though, remains the economy, though he believes President Obama has not gotten the credit he deserves for the country's turnaround. But changes beyond our control related to technology and interconnectedness should force us to adjust our ways of approaching economic growth. As with the Industrial Revolution or any other time of rapid change, challenges arise alongside the benefits. Even with a smarter tax code, we still need to acknowledge and address the fact that, though a segment of our population has made a lot of money, our economy has lost the kinds of jobs that have sustained many middle-skilled people.  


As in the past, one of the answers is education. We need to both think about it differently and invest in it heavily. Using public funds to help people afford public colleges will allow people to enter the new economy while it encourages economic growth. Congressman Delaney also believes we should embrace dynamic scoring, even though Democrats worry that Republicans will use it to lower taxes.


Secondly, during the 20, 30, even 40 years it will take to work through the period of change, we must create more middle-skilled jobs. To do so, the Congressman favors investment in infrastructure. We are fortunate in this country in that we did not suffer the destruction from World War II as other areas of the world did. Therefore, we are able to move forward without needing to recover from the devastation caused by war, but we need to act because we live in competitive times. "Education," says Delaney, "the long game; infrastructure, the short."  


He is convinced that we can do this on a bipartisan basis if we open our minds to exploring the best ideas from both sides of the aisle. As an example, he cited the bill he put together in his first term that dealt with international infrastructure paired with tax reform. This bill garnered the support of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.


In a nod to his audience, he added that he believes that not enough women are engaged in the political process. Women, he said, bring important skills to that process, skills that are not based simply on strength. He also thinks women need more support to move up the economic ladder.


The Congressman ended his remarks by listing some of the bills he was focused on now. One such bill would combat gerrymandering by setting national redistricting standards. These standards could then form the basis for a lawsuit where necessary. He also is working on a carbon tax bill.


Q & A

1.  The Volcker Rule: Explaining why he voted with Republicans on the Volcker Rule, he said that it was a misperception that the bill would repeal Dodd-Frank. It would just give banks two years to deal with collateralized loans. He said 90 Democrats voted with him and another 75 would have had they not bowed to pressure from advocates who misunderstood the bill.


2.  Taxes:

( a)  Corporate income taxes-Though these tax revenues have gone down from 40 percent to 10 percent, corporations are not paying fewer taxes; they are just paying them differently. They have become partnerships or LLCs and therefore pay taxes on their personal returns.

(b) International taxes-We are the only developed country that requires companies to pay tax here when they have already paid overseas. If we change this law, we will encourage these companies to bring the money back home for investment. Thus we need to fix the system so that companies can repatriate the money tax-free if they pay a minimum level of tax overseas. But if they are gaming the system by going to tax havens, then we should require them to pay their fair share here.


3.  Cuba: Although the Congressman has not had the opportunity to completely familiarize himself with the treaty, he would like reassurances on some issues


4.  Kinds of taxes: Although Congressman Delaney supports directionally what Congressman Christopher Van Hollen is trying to do with the Financial Transaction Tax bill, he prefers income, rather than excise taxes. He added, "The whole notion that we have to treat investors like some protected class is absurd. They like investing. They are not going to stop investing because of taxes." He would make the income and capital gains rates the same. He offered the caveat about the Financial Transaction Tax that internationally he would require participation by major markets like London and Tokyo. He concluded that "I believe wealthy Americans should pay more." This is the only way we will have the money to invest in the general population.


5.  Obsolescence of small shops-"We cannot stop progress," said the Congressman. "We cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube." At some point in the future, we will have no more newspapers or bank branches. But what we need to do is make sure that the people who own these businesses get new kinds of jobs.


"If we don't change trends, Congressman Delaney said in conclusion, "we will become a nation not of opportunity, but of birthright. That's what we [immigrants] left." He then reiterated his three-pronged strategy: education, infrastructure, & and social insurance programs for the remnant that will inevitably be left behind.





                                                 by Beth Tomasello and Lucy Freeman


Lucy Freeman, WDC Education Chairman.

On the evening of February 5, a standing room only crowd of 140 people braved the bitter cold and wind to attend the Woman's Democratic Club's Educational Program on Campaign Finance Reform. The program featured Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congressman John Sarbanes, and State Senator Jamie Raskin, all of whom have proposed legislation addressing different aspects of our broken campaign finance system. Charles Duffy, host of Montgomery County Cable TV's "Political Pulse," expertly moderated the panel. 


Moderator Charles Duffy and Congressman Chris Van Hollen 
Charles Duffy set the stage with an explanation of the state of campaign finance reform law as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. As Duffy explained,Citizens United allowed corporations, labor unions and non-profit organizations the ability to donate to independent expenditure "social welfare" organizations under IRS Code section 501(c)(4), which organizations have a right under the First Amendment to engage in political advertising and advocacy. In so ruling, the Court invalidated a section of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act that prohibited such expenditures for campaign advertising within 30 days of a primary election. The "social welfare" organization at issue in Citizens United had used the funding to produce and air a film opposing Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency in 2008.




Speakers Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congressman John Sarbanes and State Senator Jamie Raskin 


Congressman Van Hollen led off for the panelists and further elaborated on the Supreme Court's rulings prior to
Citizens United which paved the way for the ruling in that case. An earlier line of Supreme Court cases had equated corporations with individual citizens and had afforded them the civil right of free speech. In other prior cases the Supreme Court had ruled that "money equals speech" and that campaign contributions-regardless of the source-is speech subject to first amendment protections. The Citizens United decision was followed by the more recent decision in
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court invalidated any aggregate campaign spending limits so campaign donors do not have to limit the number of candidates or committees to which they may donate in a campaign cycle.




As Congressman Van Hollen explained, one of the flaws of the Citizens United decision is that the majority of justices (all Republican appointees) agreed that one of the ways that transparency would be achieved in campaign finance would be for Congress to require disclosure of the contributions to the 501(c)(4) organizations, just as disclosure of direct campaign donations of $200 or more is currently required under federal law. Taking the Supreme Court's statements at face value, in 2010, Congressman Chris Van Hollen introduced The DISCLOSE Act, which would require disclosure of donors to 501(c)(4)s. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House in 2010, but was voted down in the Senate that year owing to the untimely death of Senator Edward Kennedy and his replacement by Republican Scott Brown. Despite numerous statements in support of disclosure on the part of Republican leadership, including Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman Van Hollen conceded that it is not likely that The DISCLOSE Act will be enacted by the current Republican Congress.




Congressman Van Hollen also addressed the logical question as to why strictly political organizations, such as the one in question in Citizens United, qualify as "social welfare" organizations under Section 501(c)(4) in the first place. Congressman Van Hollen noted that he had filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service in an effort to compel the IRS to clarify discrepancies between the Internal Revenue Code and the IRS's guidance on the issue of what types of organizations qualify as 501(c)(4)s, but the Congressman agreed to drop the case (with a right to refile it) to permit the IRS to draft regulations to clarify the nature of organizations that qualify as "social welfare" organizations.


WDC President Beth Tomasello and Moderator Charles Duffy


The next speaker, Congressman John Sarbanes, is the sponsor of The Grassroots Democracy Act, which seeks to equalize the power of large dollar and small dollar donors and fundraisers.  Under The Grassroots Democracy Act, in federal elections, the federal government would match contributions up to $100 with public funds. The legislation would fund small, individual contributions at a 10-1 ratio for candidates who agree to a $100 contribution limit for all donations and at a 5-1 ratio for candidates who accept donations up to allowable legal limits. The legislation also would provide taxpayers with a $25 tax credit to help individuals afford to make small campaign contributions.

The goal of The Grassroots Democracy Act is to equalize the influence of small donors and grassroots fundraisers with the influence of large donors and outside spending by super PACs and 501(c)(4)s. As Congressman Sarbanes explained at the forum, The Grassroots Democracy Act would allow members of Congress to fundraise less, and also would make them beholden to the right constituency: the voters in their districts. By vastly multiplying the effect of grassroots fundraising, federal politicians can spend their time at house parties with their constituents (which the Congressman believes that every member of Congress would prefer) for the same amount of campaign funding that they might otherwise be offered or need to seek from large individual donors, PACs and other organizations seeking political influence. The Grassroots Democracy Act would allow federal candidates for office to refuse funding that may come with strings attached (or will appear to constituents as having strings attached), and to focus solely on the needs of their constituents while still adequately funding increasingly expensive political campaigns.   As Congressman Sarbanes noted, congressional campaigns now cost approximately $1.5 million every two years. Maine and New York City have adopted campaign finance matching systems similar to this; the result in Maine has been that there are more female and minority candidates and candidates from the middle class.




Congressman Sarbanes echoed the dissent in Citizens United in noting that voter participation continues to decline election after election, a phenomenon that he attributed to the outsized influence of money in politics. Congressman Sarbanes believes that voters increasingly opt out of elections because they believe that the deck is stacked by a campaign finance system that allows virtually unlimited special interest cash to influence campaigns through Super PACs and independent expenditures organizations that few voters see as truly independent of the campaigns. Congressman Sarbanes refuted the Court's conclusion in Citizens United that the only corruption of the political system comes from quid pro quo exchanges of political favors between donors and elected officials. Like the dissenting justices in Citizens United, Congressman Sarbanes stated that even the appearance of undue influence is corrosive and discourages individual participation in the electoral process.


The third panelist was District 20 State Senator Jamie Raskin, who has introduced legislation this session in Annapolis called "Shareholders United," legislation that is designed to address another erroneous assumption in the Citizens United decision. In justifying its decision, the Court opined that shareholders will be a check on corporations' political spending because, if shareholders do not approve of the political expenditures for Super PACS or other 501(c)(4)s, they will make their views known through shareholder resolutions. Senator Raskin's legislation requires corporations doing business in Maryland to obtain the approval of shareholders before they make political expenditures in Maryland state elections. Senator Raskin's legislation was prompted in part because he, like most Americans, saves for his retirement through mutual funds offered through his 401(k) plan. When he actually examined the corporations whose stocks he owned through his retirement funds, he found that he was invested in every company that is funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative, corporate-funded political organization that funds issue campaigns and works to enact regressive pro-corporate, anti-union, pro-gun, anti-environment legislation in state legislatures throughout the country.

The Shareholders United legislation is part of a national movement in state legislatures to enact laws that will require corporations to gain the consent of their shareholders-a consent that the Supreme Court only assumed shareholders could express-in its reasoning in the Citizens United decision.

The panelists were also joined by District 18 Delegate Al Carr, who has introduced legislation that would expand Maryland's current disclosure requirements to require all large donations to be disclosed publicly within 24 hours of receipt by a campaign. As Delegate Carr explained this legislation is designed to allow voters to know right away which individuals, committees and corporations (which are allowed to make direct donations to Maryland state candidates) have donated to which candidates. Delegate Carr proposed this legislation in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which invalidated Maryland's limit on the aggregate amount that any individual or entity can donate to candidates during an election cycle.

It was clear to all in attendance that we are very fortunate in Montgomery County to be represented by such passionate advocates for campaign finance reform, all of whom are committed to a revitalization of our democracy and its return to the American people. But, it was also clear that, with Republicans in control of the Congress, we may have to wait several years to see meaningful federal reform. Nonetheless, as all our speakers stressed, it is important for citizens to make our voices heard and to demand reform, and they commended the evening's attendees for coming out on such a cold night to show their clear support for this vital issue.




                                                                                   by Beth Tomasello

The Woman's Democratic Club is returning to its roots and reviving its focus on legislative advocacy. Under the leadership of Advocacy Chair, Emily Shetty, the Club will be writing letters of support and testifying, if possible, on legislation addressing issues of highest concern to the Club's Board of Directors and members. With the re-launch of the Club's advocacy work, the Board of Directors seeks to forge stronger ties between the Club and local, state, and federal lawmakers, and to support lawmakers as they work toward progressive change. The Advocacy Committee will also identify coalitions of advocacy organizations which the Club can join and to which we can add the power of our large membership.  


Delegate Al Carr (D18) (left) meets with Beth Tomasello, WDC President (center) and Emily Shetty, chair of WDCs new Advocacy Committee (right)

During the first phase of the Advocacy Committee's work, the Club's Board of Directors was asked to identify its priority issues. The need for paid sick leave for employees was considered the most important issue to engage, particularly as legislation is pending both in Annapolis and in front of the County Council. Subsequently, the Board sent letters to both County Council President Leventhal and State Senator Brian Feldman urging passage of the sick leave legislation under consideration by the County Council and the Maryland General Assembly. Advocacy Chair Emily Shetty and WDC President Beth Tomasello also met with key state and local lawmakers to understand their legislative priorities and to learn how WDC can support them. The response from our lawmakers has been overwhelmingly positive, and they look forward to support through WDC's grassroots advocacy.  


The Advocacy Committee is currently preparing a survey of the Club's members to determine which issues are of primary importance to members, and if and how members would like to be involved in the Club's advocacy work. The committee also proposes to sponsor advocacy training for WDC members (and perhaps members of other Democratic clubs) interested in becoming effective citizen lobbyists. The training will teach members how to write and deliver effective testimony and to craft compelling letters to legislators. WDC will encourage trained members to engage with elected officials on policy issues that have been endorsed by the Board of Directors and the club members and to seek opportunities for legislative advocacy. Ultimately, the goal for the Advocacy Committee for it to support filed legislation, and also to push lawmakers to craft legislation to address issues that matter most to Club members, but have not been the subject of legislative action by the County Council or General Assembly.


The Advocacy Committee is actively seeking volunteers who are interested in spearheading WDC's grassroots advocacy efforts. If you are interested in becoming an effective citizen lobbyist, please contact WDC's Advocacy Chair, Emily Shetty, at Emily.shetty@gmail.com.






                                                                                             by Beth Tomasello
In January 2015, Families USA honored Leni Preston, Chair of the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform and WDC member, with its annual Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award. Families USA is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that, for 30 years, has been dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.


Families USA recognized Leni for her leadership of the Coalition through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Maryland. Leni was praised for her tireless work in Annapolis advocating on behalf of Maryland's health care consumers during the planning and creation of Maryland's health insurance exchanges. Leni was also recognized for the Coalition's outreach efforts to educate consumers about their coverage options and how to access the health care exchanges to enroll in a health care plan. Families USA also praised the Coalition's extensive effort to engage Maryland's citizens to improve health literacy among all health care consumers. Leni has traversed the State of Maryland many times over to speak to Maryland's lawmakers and citizens (including a series of house parties for WDC members), and as a result, our state's health care laws are among the best in the nation and our citizens are better educated health care consumers.  


WDC congratulates Leni Preston on receiving the Consumer Health Advocate of the Year Award from Families USA. The award is well-deserved recognition of Leni's tireless and committed volunteer work on behalf of all Marylanders.







Time to renew All current members have received their renewal forms in the mail.  Please renew now!  Included in this mailing was a gift form which is new to our Club this year. Your gift membership to a friend is a great way to acknowledge a good Democrat and recognize the many opportunities that Club membership offers.  WDC appreciates your continuing support and wants to remind you that your dues were due on September 1. Your voice and membership dues are crucial to the vitality and strength of the Woman's Democratic Club. Your $35.00 dues ($36.00 online at www.womansdemocraticclub.org) pays for Club mailings; subsidizes events, programming, and the annual New Member dinner; and supports the important work of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and Democratic candidates with campaign contributions. All members who have not renewed as of February 1 will not be included in the 2015 Club directory and will no longer receive Club mailings.   Click here to renew or join now.







WDC has a Twitter account!  Our Twitter handle is @WomenDems.  Be sure to follow us!  


Don't forget to like us on Facebook; we're listed as Woman's Democratic Club, Montgomery County.

Want to learn more about what your fellow Democrats are reading about American or political Bookshistory? Join WDC's Political Book Club - our longstanding literary conclave that meets on the third Wednesday of every other month. Meetings take place at 1:30 p.m. at members' homes. A facilitator for each book leads the discussion. For more information, contact Estelle Stone at estellestone24@gmail.com .



Future selections include A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren on March 18, and Uncertain Justice :The Roberts Court and the Constitution by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz on May 20.  


If you're interested in seeing what other books have been discussed, please go to www.womansdemocraticclub.org and click on Political Book Club, which is listed under Events.  



 Help Wanted

Sharing your skills and expertise with us and joining a committee are fun ways to meet other members and make new friends while helping the Club accomplish its goals. We especially need volunteers to help with new member recruitment as part of the Membership & Outreach Committee and we need volunteers on the Legislative Committee to help analyze and track important legislation.


Click here to volunteer.




Suggestion Box  

Do you have ideas for future programs? Do you know someone who would be a great speaker at a future WDC event?  If so, please send an e-mail to wdcmcmd@gmail.com.



Also, our Education Committee is seeking ideas for future programs in the Montgomery 101 series; if you have issues or subjects about the county you would like to learn about or study, please email Lucy Freeman at dorset4708@yahoo.com or call 301-654-8115.






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Woman's Democratic Club
Beth Tomasello.President
www.womansdemocraticclub.org     wdcmcmd@gmail.com
Woman's Democratic Club
Sybil Cantor
Email Coordinator